Dr. Saber’s Blog

What Does Plastic Surgery Tourism Really Cost? Too Much

Medical tourism is a worldwide, multibillion-dollar market that continues to grow. Medical tourism (or medical travel) is international travel to receive medical care.

Plastic surgery tourism is mainly a price-driven phenomenon. Patients pursue plastic surgery overseas for a variety of reasons including:

  • decreased cost
  • the opportunity to combine medical care with a vacation destination
  • a preference for care from providers from their home country
Plastic Surgery Tourism

Is plastic surgery tourism safe?

Going abroad for plastic and cosmetic surgery can be a risky business, and you may be risking more than just your finances. The number of patients traveling abroad for medical services is increasing; an estimated 15 million U.S. patients are seeking medical care in a foreign country every year.

Those who do, are at much higher risk for serious post-surgery complications including:

  • infections
  • blood clots
  • pulmonary embolism
  • long-term damage
  • death

Treatment for infections and other complications of surgery abroad cost the United States healthcare system $1.3 billion per year, according to a report by Oren M. Tepper, MD, and colleagues of Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York. 

Common procedures sought overseas include:

  • breast augmentation
  • breast lift
  • breast reduction
  • liposuction
  • face-lift
  • facial rejuvenation
  • tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
  • eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
  • rhinoplasty (nose job)

Some companies are now offering “extreme makeovers” or “mommy makeovers” overseas. All these cosmetic surgeries are considered invasive procedures.

Where do patients travel for plastic surgery?

Plastic surgery beyond U.S. borders is marketed at cheaper prices with a focus on relaxation and recovery in an exotic locale post-surgery. Medical tourism destinations for cosmetic surgery include Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey.

Plastic Surgery Tourism

These destinations offer plastic surgery vacation packages from “safari and surgery” to “tropical, scenic tour.” When reviewing the risks associated with medical tourism, travelers should consider both the procedure and destination.

Research by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) found that Thailand, Mexico, and Turkey have the highest proportion of foreign patients traveling to their countries for plastic surgery procedures.

The group’s research revealed that Brazil surpassed the United States in surgical procedures completed in 2019 with over 1.4 million plastic surgeries, including the top three procedures: liposuctions, breast augmentations, and abdominoplasty.

According to The International Medical Travel Journal, the best places for plastic surgery abroad are Brazil, Thailand, and Malaysia. To ensure the safest care, choose the countries that have been ranked the best for hospitals, facilities, and surgical training.

What are the potential risks of cosmetic surgery overseas?

All medical and surgical procedures carry some risk of complications and can occur regardless of where treatment is received. But overseas surgery is especially dangerous for a variety of reasons including:

Lacking regulatory oversight

In the United States, the American Board of Plastic Surgery sets standards and designations by providing board certification to surgeons that have completed plastic and reconstructive surgery training. Certified plastic surgeons have passed rigorous qualification exams and receive continuous certifications to ensure they meet the high standards of patient safety.

While there are many skilled and qualified physicians practicing all over the world, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) cautions that it may be difficult to assess the training and credentials of surgeons outside of the United States.

Overseas facilities do not have regulated policies and procedures for safety like the ones implemented in the United States, including:

  • maintaining accreditation or provider licensure
  • tracking patient outcome data
  • maintaining formal medical record privacy and security policies

Cosmetic surgery products or devices used in other countries may not have been tested, proven safe and effective, or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Most medical tourists rely on private companies or medical concierge services to identify foreign healthcare facilities. Patients are not directly involved in making crucial decisions about their care and who will be providing those services.

Infectious disease risk

Complications from infections associated with plastic surgery procedures performed outside the United States include:

  • wound infections
  • bloodstream infections (sepsis)
  • acquisition of bloodborne pathogens — including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV
Plastic Surgery Tourism

The risk of acquiring antibiotic-resistant infections may be increased in certain countries; some highly resistant bacterial pathogens appear to be more common in other countries U.S. residents go to for cosmetic surgery procedures.

Several outbreaks of infectious disease have been documented in patients who traveled for elective cosmetic surgery. Recent examples include:

  • Surgical site infections caused by mycobacteria in patients who underwent cosmetic surgery in the Dominican Republic.
  • Q fever in patients who received fetal sheep cell injections in Germany.

Air Travel complications

Travel combined with surgery significantly increases the risk of complications. Long flights after surgery increase the risk of developing many potentially fatal complications, including:

  • pulmonary embolism
  • blood clots
  • swelling
  • infection

With air travel, patients will be sitting for prolonged periods or carrying heavy luggage — which can be harmful to the surgical site.

A very serious risk of air travel is developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is a blood clot that forms in the calf area of the legs and occurs due to prolonged sitting and poor circulation. These blood clots can travel through the blood vessels, cause damage to the lungs, and even result in death.

The ASPS suggests avoiding air travel five to seven days after liposuction and breast augmentation, and seven to ten days after cosmetic procedures of the face including facelifts, eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, and laser treatments.

Limited postoperative care and monitoring

Follow-up care and monitoring is a key component of any surgery. Cosmetic surgery in a foreign country provides very limited follow-up care, if any, when the patient returns to the United States. If a patient experiences post-surgical complications, it can be a challenge to find a qualified plastic surgeon to treat the problem or provide revision surgery.

Local doctors may not know the surgical techniques used in the initial operation, making treatment difficult or impossible. Revision surgeries can be more complicated than the initial operation and patients rarely get the desired results.

Increased cost

While many patients seek overseas cosmetic surgery due to its reduced cost, they can actually end up paying more overall.

Patients can incur additional costs for revision surgeries and treatment of complications. This can end up costing more than if they’d just had their surgery in the U.S. to begin with. “Bargain” surgery can be costly and there may be no legal recourse if there is surgical negligence by the physician or institution.

A study revealed a substantial discrepancy between money saved by undergoing surgery abroad and massive costs accrued to treat surgical complications.

Dangers of overseas plastic surgery

In January 2021, three California women traveled to Tijuana, Mexico for plastic surgery. The end results were tragic.

  • One woman died during the procedure.
  • The second woman came back to the United States with kidney failure.
  • The third woman was hospitalized for three weeks with sepsis.

Cosmetic surgery tourism has severe medical repercussions for patients.

Why choose Saber Plastic Surgery for your cosmetic surgery?

Dr. Sepideh Saber is a board-certified plastic surgeon providing cosmetic procedures and surgeries from a more sensitive, female perspective for patients of all ages, genders, and orientations. She ensures thatall questions are answered so that each patient can make a truly well-informed decision.

Keeping her patients safe remains her top priority. She employs the latest state-of-the-art techniques and performs her procedures in the top surgical centers and hospitals, where she enjoys full admitting privileges.

Dr. Saber takes her patients’ safety very seriously. Her facility’s Covid-19 patient safety procedures exceed all CDC and World Health Organization recommendations. Masks are always required in our office during the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Saber is located in Encino, CA for patients throughout the Los Angeles area. We are also convenient to Encino, Woodland Hills, Sherman Oaks, Calabasas, Burbank, Glendale, Hidden Hills, Agoura Hills, Northridge, North Hollywood, Malibu, Topanga, Canoga Park, Reseda, Valley Glen, Chatsworth, West Hills, Winnetka, Universal City, Bel Air, Beverly Hills, Downtown Los Angeles, Silverlake, and Echo Park.

To request a consultation, please call (877) 205-4100 or schedule a consultation online.

Dr. Saber graduated from Stanford University’s world-renowned medical school and did her plastic and reconstructive surgery residency at the equally lauded University of Southern California. She then completed a fellowship at New York University in the extremely challenging and delicate disciplines of hand surgery and microsurgery.

Dr. Saber offers a more sensitive, female perspective for patients of all ages, genders, and orientations. Former patients from all walks of life have praised not only their treatment outcomes but her caring, thoughtful approach to a wide array of appearance and health-related matters.
  • GET THE LATEST saber plastic surgery news
    in your inbox

  • explore our
    blog articles by category

  • Categories

  • 706 Posts

    Dr. Sepideh Saber, MD, FACS

    👩🏻‍⚕️ Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
    🏫 Stanford/USC/NYU Trained
    🏥 Encino, CA | Book a Free Consult
    ☎️ (833) 215-0500
    💌 info@saberplasticsurgery.com

    Connecting with my patients and helping them achieve their health goals is incredibly rewarding. Thank you for choosing me to be part of your journey. 🌸 

#cosmeticsurgeon #plasticsurgery #plasticsurgeonlosangeles #losangeles #liposuctionlosangeles #drsaberplasticsurgery
    Hanging around 🌳 🐒
    ✨A beautiful breast reduction by Dr. Saber! We are absolutely thrilled with her results✨

Give us a call to set up a complimentary consultation with #DrSaber who will create a customized plan for you!

⭐️To set up a consultation:⁠
🔸 Call : (833) 215-0500⁠
🔸 info@saberplasticsurgery.com ⁠
🔸 saberplasticsurgery.com

  #breastaugmentation #breastsurgery #breastreduction #liposuction #tummytuck  #tummytucksurgery #abdominoplasty #tummytuckjourney #MommyMakeover #otoplasty #earpinning #earreshaping
#plasticsurgery  #plasticsurgeon 
#defined #chinlipo #necklipo  #hourglass 
#cosmeticsurgeon  #HourGlassBySaber #ContouredBySaber #bodybydrsaber  #drsaberpatient #SaberPlasticSurgery #honestplasticsurgeon #beforeandafter #beauty #losangeles
    ✨ Our lovely patient came in for our Bilateral Breast Reduction procedure✨

The procedure gave her tremendous relief of back pain, neck and shoulder pain, bra strap grooving, and rashes under her breast folds. Our patient also feels much more comfortable wearing any type of clothes she likes. 

Give us a call to set up a complimentary consultation with #DrSaber who will create a customized plan for you!
⭐️To set up a consultation:⁠
🔸 Call : (833) 215-0500⁠
🔸 info@saberplasticsurgery.com ⁠
🔸 saberplasticsurgery.com
#breastimplants #breastsurgery #breastaugmentation 
#plasticsurgery  #plasticsurgeon #MommyMakeover #liposuction #tummytuck  #abdominoplasty #cosmeticsurgeon  #HourGlassBySaber #ContouredBySaber #bodybydrsaber  #drsaberpatient #SaberPlasticSurgery #honestplasticsurgeon #beforeandafter #beauty #losangeles #filler #rejuve nate
    My patients' happiness is my happiness. Thank you for entrusting me. 🌸 ❤️ 

#cosmeticsurgeon #plasticsurgery #plasticsurgeonlosangeles #losangeles #liposuctionlosangeles #drsaberplasticsurgery
    Wishing everyone a fun holiday weekend! ⭐️
    Wishing everyone a fun and safe holiday from Saber plastic surgery 🎆✨

  • What patients say about Dr. Saber

    Over 16 Reviews

    I was fortunate to find Dr. Saber after researching board-certified surgeons who specialize in breast cancer reconstruction revision surgery. I knew I was in good hands from the moment I spoke with the lovely and efficient Marlene, Dr Saber's office manager. Dr Saber patiently listened to my concerns and, after examining me, explained what I could realistically expect the outcome to be from another surgery. She also explained to me that she would need to review my previous surgery notes before we could discuss a possible further surgery, which I found comforting and highly ethical. I also discussed a couple of other procedures that I would like done, including fat removal from my large upper arms that had caused me great embarrassment for several years. Dr. Saber is an excellent surgeon who is incredibly kind and genuine. She truly understands the female body and the emotional aspect of body insecurities yet, she is transparent about what can and cannot be done and takes time to discuss realistic expectations and outcomes. My breast reconstruction revision surgery will take place in the New Year, but in the meantime, I have the most fabulous upper arms that I recently flaunted in a strapless dress (something I have not done in years). Dr Saber is truly one of a kind, and I still cannot believe how fortunate I am to have found her. I highly recommend Dr Saber.

    Linda DeCarlo November 29, 2023

    I don’t have enough wonderful words to describe Dr Saber and Marlene! I had a tummy tuck done this year and from start to finish the entire experience was amazing. Marlene is always so helpful and works so hard to make every detail a breeze for you. When I had my consultation with Dr Saber I was at a point of complete agony with my body. She instantly took that stress and frustration off my shoulders! As a woman not being heard by doctors for years I left that consultation with happy tears knowing I had finally found my Dr. It was a major surgery and I felt completely zen and at peace going in because she really does make you feel that safe. I didn’t think I would ever look the way I do now! She gave me the gift of having the body I kept fighting for. I will never stop recommending her.

    Monica Prusa October 9, 2023

    I saw Dr. Saber when I broke my wrist. I ended up having to have surgery. She did an excellent job and I am healing nicely. She was very professional, but was also very kind and compassionate. I would highly recommend her!!

    Sandy Schaupp September 13, 2022

    I LOVED DR SABER!!! There are a few reasons why I chose her. One was because she’s a female Doctor that was my goal who also did a good job (which I was able to confirm with all her before and after photos) and what sold me was my safety in mind. She made me feel like I was in the best hands ever along with Marlene who coordinated everything THANK YOU LADIES! Dr Saber helped me get back the body I have always desired. I had a lot of stomach fat from weight gain and I lost weight so a lot of my weight was in my front lower and upper abdomen. Now I have a super beautiful curvy body like an hourglass after a tummy tuck and lipo she did. She understood the assignment hahaha . I’m 32 years old no kids just wanted to enjoy my younger body looking and feeling beautiful and she really took good care of me. Even after hours I had an emergency due to my fault but she was there and got back to me very quickly and I’m very grateful. I also think her work says a lot because I stopped taking pain medication on the 3rd day after surgery and was fine with very minimal pain I was able to tolerate the healing process. Highly recommend going with her I just had a wonderful experience and would do it all over again if I had too. Maybe after I have kids. Thanks Dr Saber and team <3

    STEPHANIE d July 15, 2022

    Dr.Saber is by far one of the best plastic surgeons. I love how she takes her time to explain any procedure to the patients understanding. She always makes sure to answers any and all questions.From fillers to body contours she’s the one you want.

    Katherine Melara February 15, 2022

    Dr Saber is amazing! She is caring and very informative. I went in for fillers and she explained procedure step by step. I highly recommend her and look forward to future visits.

    Amanda Vazquez December 18, 2020

    Dr. Saber was friendly, knowledgeable and professional. She took time to listen, answer all my questions and was forthright in her recommendations. Her staff was friendly and helpful. I was very happy with the results and plan on going back. If you are looking for a first rate professional experience look no further she is the doctor for you!

    T R December 18, 2020

    Dr. Saber is one of a kind plastic surgeon with a heart of gold. She is a well verse plastic surgeon that puts her patient's needs before anything else. She genuinely cares about every single patient, and her work speaks for itself. I notice every post-operative result on her Instagram (@saberplasticsurgery) the patients have this glow that radiates through. I have been going to Dr. Saber for my Botox for the past 3 years, and love the results every time. I know who I will be going to for any future plastic surgery needs, and will confidently refer family and friends to Dr. Saber for any Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery consultations.

    Rudy Garcia December 16, 2020

    I have nothing but great things to say about Dr. Saber! I am so pleased with my results from a breast augmentation she performed on me back in late June! She answered all my questions and concerns before and after my surgery. She’s very easy to get in contact with and she’s so nice. She made feel so comfortable throughout the whole process. 100/10 Lover her work!!

    Amanda Villegas October 15, 2020

    Dr Saber is hands down the best surgeon! She took her time answering my questions and explained procedure in detail. After doing liposuction six months ago, I am extremely happy with my results and I appreciate her so much.

    Marlene Cosentino October 15, 2020

    Dr. Saber is so kind and thorough with her patients! She is an amazing doctor and genuinely cars about everyone she comes in contact with. I would recommend her to anyone for any hand surgery or cosmetic procedure.

    Rachel Meach October 15, 2020